Statewide MT Fishing Report Compilation 3.27.24
By angelamontana

Posted: March 28, 2024

Before diving into the fishing report, check out this article that explains the difference between anglers and fishermen.

Please check the fishing regulations before fishing.


Ruby River Fishing Report by Montana Angler (March 27, 2024)

Current Conditions:

The Ruby is a nice option in the spring. The smaller valley doesn’t produce as strong of winds as the Madison and the dam protects the waters a bit early run off. Nymphing is always very productive with small worms, egg patterns, baetis nymphs and sometimes dead drifted streamers. Streamer fishing early can sometimes also be productive with smaller black patterns. Often the surface action can be very worth while with a late morning midge hatch followed by baetis.

The Month Ahead:

The Ruby should continue to fish well with midges dropping off and baetis becoming more and more prolific. By late May the waters can rise to very high levels making wading difficult with the willow choked banks.

Hell Creek General Recreation Information (March 27, 2024)

Click here:  CLICK HERE for Hell Creek webcam.

Yellowstone River Fishing Report by Bozeman Fly Supply (March 27, 2024)

As we move into spring, the fishing over on the Yellowstone will start to pick up! Just check the wind forecast before venturing out to the river. For streamers, we’ve been fishing Dragons, Dungeons, Hum Dingers, and Fresh Water Closures. Small sculpin patterns and buggers have also been working on indicator rigs or stripped. With the indicator rigs, trail that sculpin or bugger with your favorite little Baetis Nymph, Zebra Midge, worm, or egg. A larger Hares Ear Nymph has also been getting bit. If you see fish rising they’re most likely rising to midges. Griffiths Gnats, small Purple Haze, and Buzzball midges have all been successful when there is fish rising.

Suggested Fly Patterns

  • Dry Fly

    Parachute Adams (16-20), Purple Haze (16-18), Griffiths Gnat (16-20), Buzz Ball (16-14)

  • Streamer

    Woolly Bugger (4-12), Mini Dungeon Black/ Natural/ White (6), Montana Intruder (4), Sparkle Minnow JJ’s, Silver (4-8), Double Gonga Black/Rainbow (4), Sculpzilla Black/ White/ Natural (4-8)

  • Nymph

    Pat’s Rubber Legs (6-12), Zirdle Bug (6-12), Woolly Bugger Black/ Olive (4-12), Perdigon (14-18), Pheasant Tail (10-18), Jigster Baetis (14-18), Prince Nymph (10-18), BH Hare’s Ear (12-18), Sizzlin’ Hot Spot Squirrel (14-16), Matt’s Shagadelic Mop Tan/ Brown/ Green/ Cheeto (10), Hare’s Ear (14-18), Dirty Bird (12-16)

Southwest Montana Fishing Overview by Montana Angler (March 22, 2024)

As winter slowly creeps out of Montana, our rivers transition as well. We are deep into the season of “not quite winter, yet not quite spring.” On any given day anglers can experience sunshine, snow, rain, wind, and more sunshine…and then repeat the next day. The valley bottoms and riverbanks are clear of snow but the mountains are still snowcapped. The contrast of green down low and white up high can make for a scenic backdrop to a day on the water. Even with the warmer days, the nights are relatively cold so streamflows often do not fluctuate enough to negatively impact fishing conditions.

We are in our pre-runoff mode of fishing, which means options run the gamut. From spring creeks to tailwaters to large and small freestones nearly all waters have fishable conditions. Be sure to check regulations for seasonal or special closures or call our fly shop. Now is a good time to fish before runoff commences on a many waters.

Water temperatures are ticking upward and hatches increase in frequency and diversity, trout will follow suit and become more active. Over the course of an angling day a trout may start in a deep, winter holding lie but migrate to a feeding lane or actively pursue hatching insects. This time of year a trout’s behavior is directly related to water temperature and hatches. Frigid cold fronts moving in have ceased for the season and if a cold snap does pass through, it is often short lived. The days are noticeably longer and the hours in a day a trout may actively be feeding often increases each day.

This is also a good time of year for targeting fish with streamers. As trout become more active feeding on more abundant hatches, they can also be more willing to chase baitfish as well. This time of year, fish that are willing to chase baitfish tend to be decent sized as well. Finding these larger fish on streamers requires patience and the willingness to sacrifice quality over quantity.

Anglers need to also be aware of rainbow and cutthroat trout spawning in area streams. For the next few months always be aware of wading on or around redds. Redds may be easily spotted as areas of cleaner/grayer gravel. Fish may or may not be spotted on or near a redd. If you are in doubt if a redd exists, stay clear.


A typical early spring day on a Montana stream or river can feature a smorgasbord of hatches. The most exciting hatch that signals spring is the Blue Winged Olive mayfly. These are prevalent in nearly every trout river in Montana and will hatch when water temperatures rise into the 40s. Blue Winged Olives also are more likely to hatch in rainy or snowy weather which can be common in spring.

Rounding out the list of hatches for early spring includes midges, March Browns, skwala stoneflies, and possibly some early season caddis.

Specific to individual rivers, the Gallatin River near Bozeman and Big Sky has notable hatches of Blue Winged Olives and skwala stoneflies. The tailwater fisheries on the Missouri and Madison Rivers can have exceptional hatches of Blue Winged Olives on a cloudy rainy or snowy day. The Yellowstone River near Livingston and through Paradise Valley will see a variety of hatches including March Browns, Blue Winged Olives, and possibly some early caddis.

Fly Selection

Even with all the talk of prolific hatches right now subsurface nymphing is still the most effective way to fish. Because trout may be feeding on a variety of insects on any given day, for any tandem nymph rig be sure to include one or both of the following patterns:

  • Pat’s Rubber Leg’s in sizes 8-16
  • Zirdles in sizes 8-16
  • Any beadhead rubber legged stonefly pattern in size 8-16
  • Beadhead PTs in sizes 14-18
  • Beadhead Hare’s Ear in size 14-18
  • Beadhead Rainbow Warrior in size 14-18
  • Any favorite scud, sowbug, or firebead in size 14-20

For dry flies a selection of Parachute patterns will work well for BWOs, including a Parachute Purple Haze in size 14-18 or a Hi-Vis Sprout’s in size 14-18. For March Browns choose similar patterns but bump up in sizes to 10 or 12. You can also try a Brindle Chute or your favorite March Brown pattern. For any early season stoneflies an olive or grey Chubby Chernobyl, Stimulator, or Bugmeister in size 10 or 12 is a good choice. Midges can also hatch right now and size 18 to 20 Paliminos or Griffiths gnats are good choices.

Streamers, whether stripped or dragged through deeper holes, can produce fish. Go with your favorite choice. Or, if you haven’t yet fished a Circus Peanut, Sparkle Minnow, or Sculpzilla, those are all good choices for this time of year.

Reading Water

Because snowmelt runoff has not yet commenced, streamflows often remain relatively consistent. There may be small daily fluctuations, but that doesn’t effect where trout will be found. Trout will migrate on a daily basis to locations in a river or stream based on the most available food source. Before any hatch occurs expect to find trout in deeper runs or holes, awaiting the hatch or feeding on insects that are staging. As a hatch progresses trout may move higher into the water column or towards bankside structure, so be prepared to adjust the depth at which your flies are being presented. If midges or Blue Winged Olives are abundant, hatching adults will collect in slower currents near structure or in slow pools or pockets.

In general focus on slower and deeper water unless a hatch is occurring, then target areas where bugs will collect such as pools and pockets of slower water or along or behind bankside structure.

Cooney State Park Information via FWP (March 27, 2024)

Tongue River Reservoir Lake Update by Tongue River Reservoir State Park (March 20, 2024)

On Sunday, the lake was 80-90 percent ice covered. With the strong warm winds Monday and Tuesday, all the ice disappeared. Both ramps are open for boating🚤now. There may be some ice at the far south end still. There is a chance of snow showers this weekend at the reservoir. Water temperature at the ramp is 45 degrees. Marina is closed until April 5th. Be safe!

Missouri River Fly Fishing Report by Yellowdog Fly Fishing (March 27, 2024)

Flow Data: Missouri River below Holter Dam near Wolf Creek, MT

The weather in Craig is back to some relatively nice spring weather. Fishing has been good and will only get better with the spring like temps and warming water. Midges have been out and trout have been eating them on the surface here an there. Conditions this week could make for some good dry fly action. A Peacock Cluster or Griffiths Gnat will usually trick the rising trout. Nymphing has been great. Scuds, sowbugs, and midges are the aquatic bug imitations to use throughout the spring. Tailwater Sowbugs, Pill Poppers, Manhattan Midges, and Amex are a few of our favorite winter Missouri Nymphs. A worm in wine or red will also trick MO fish this time of the year. Missouri fish hold primarily in the water that is moving at a walking pace and sometimes even slower when the water is this cold. Swinging can be a good option all winter long with small buggers or streamers. BWO’s coming soon!

Chancy and Dave’s Fish Camp Fishing Report (March 16, 2024)

🎣🎣 Chancy and Dave’s Fishing Report 🎣🎣
🔹 Ashley Lake- Good ice still 10-11”, lots of salmon 7-11” size, few nice perch.
🔹 Bitterroot Lake- Nice salmon still biting, some fish up to 20”. Ice is still good 8-10”.
🔹 Lower Stillwater- Lots of ice, good perch 8-12” range, some pike.
🔹 Rodgers Lake- good ice 12 to 14″ early morning or late evening for Grayling, few nice cutts.
🔹 Crystal Lake – salmon out from boat launch, good ice.
🔹 Lake, Mary Ronan – 12 to 14″ of good ice, lots of perch up to 1 pound fillet size 8 to 12″ also.
🔹 Smith Lake- good ice some nice perch up to 14″, lots of small pike.
🔹 Little McGregor Lake -rainbows 12 to 14″, few brookies lots of small perch.
🔹 Upper Thompson Lake- nice perch, 10 to 12″, few rainbow and pike.
🔹 Koocanusa– Rexford open, fishing good trolling PlugIt tackle, temp still cold, 34 to 36°, try near dam area also for rainbows.
🔹 Lake – Delta still good, Deb Fishing, 5 to 50 feet of water.

Flathead Valley Fishing Report by Snappy’s Sport Senter (March 22, 2024)

Warming weather has ice conditions changing daily, check as you go!

  • Flathead Lake – Trolling off the Delta in 20′-40′ using Flatfish and spoons has been producing some good bites. Try jigging VMC hair jigs off the drops to change it up.
  • Lower Flathead Lake – Perch bite is going strong down by Polson. Reports indicate good size and numbers being reported in 3′-5′.
  • Ashley Lake – We are still hearing a few people going out in the morning and getting limits of kokanee. The edges are thawing quickly but middle still has good ice.
  • Bitterroot Lake – Ice is coming off the edges quickly but still finding good ice in the middle. The bite does seem to be slowing down.
  • Lake Koocanusa – Trolling for rainbows using flies and planer boards has been producing some bites. Lyman plugs are another good option.
  • Church Slough – Closed to boating March 1st – April 10th.
  • McWenneger Slough – Ice has come off. We have no reports of fish activities yet.

Lake Frances by Valier Ice and Fishing Update (March 27, 2024)

D.R.: Went by there yesterday and all ice covered.

Hauser Ice Update (March 24, 2024)

J.R.: Boats out on Devils elbow.

Kootenai River Fishing Report by Linehan Outfitting (March 18, 2024)

This Kootenai River Montana fishing report is being brought to you by Orvis Endorsed Linehan Outfitting.  This report will be updated weekly to provide current conditions, weather, hatches, patterns, and flows to our local waters and across the state.

Flows from Libby Dam:  4000cfs

Water temperature at Libby Dam: 42 degrees

Hatches: midge, baetis

patterns:  zebra midge, parachute Adams, parachute pmd, Rosenbauer’s olive rabbit foot emerger, purple haze, purple chubby, red chubby, olive sparkle dun,bh prince, soft SJ worm, bh pheasant tail, bh rubber legged stonefly, big streamers in white, pink and olive, circus peanut, black conehead buggers

It’s not quite spring up here in Kootenai River country but we have good news.  Flows from Libby Dam have been reduced and will be stable at 4000cfs through the end of March for now.  That means there’s some great early season fishing available right now.

Expect more clammy cloudy weather through the weekend and into next week.  March continues to come in like a lion and we’ve yet to see the lamb.  Rain and snow mix will dominate forecast.  Fortunately daytime temps will ooch into the forties which is at least a small sign of spring around here.

At the moment the river is clear and in good shape.  Don’t expect much in the way of dry fly fishing and insect activity until we get some substantially warmer daytime temperatures.  The water is still cold but trout will start to feed a bit in the coming weeks.

This is always a good time of year for nymphing.  With low flows you don’t need a heavy rig.  You just need to get the flies down in softer runs and pools where trout are most likely to be holding this time of year.  Don’t spend a ton of time fishing fast riffles.

Streamer fishing is also productive this time of year especially since bigger fish will be hungry after laying low for a couple months during the dead of winter.  Keep in mind they will not necessarily want to move too fast or too far to get a meal.  Get your streamers down and fish them slowly and erratically.  Nothing like a wounded minnow to get a big rainbow interested in at least a sniff.

In Boston Red Sox news, it’s PLAY BALL!  After several weeks of a lockout the players union owners have finally come to an agreement.  Spring training will start immediately and while opening day was and remains delayed until April 7, the season will still be 162 games.  For now the Sox have managed to keep essentially the same playoff roster they had last season.  Infielders Dalbec, Arroyo, Bogaerts, and Devers are key players.  In the outfield Jackie Bradley Jr. has returned to Boston and Kike Hernandez and Verdugo will anchor the deep green.  Ace Chris Sale will hopefully be healthy and other starters from last year will hopefully pick up where they left off in October.  Go Sox!!!

Give a call anytime if you need more Kootenai River details or information on any of our hunting or fishing adventures.  And please check out our e-commerce site for all Linehan Outfitting branded swag and Orvis gear.

We look forward to hearing from you.  406-295-4872

Fresno and Nelson Fishing Report by Brian Olson (March 21, 2024)

Fresno is 29% full. Inflow 183 cfs and outflow 40 cfs. Nelson is 89% full. Inflow 195 cfs and outflow 0. Both reservoirs are iced over with deteriorating conditions. Very little fishing is happening on the reservoirs due to declining ice conditions and inclement weather. Be safe.

The Paradise Valley spring creeks have been fishing well recently. Consistent midge hatches in the mornings and late evenings, as well as some sporadic BWO hatches in early afternoons. A great dry dropper rig we like this time of year is a Griffith’s Gnat with a size 18 PT 6-12″ below. Leeches, scuds, BWO, and midge nymphs for the bobber lovers.


– Firebead Ray Charles #16
– Morgan’s Midge #20
– Balanced Leech Bruised #14
– Sprout Midge Black #18
– Barr’s Emerger BWO #18

Bighorn River Fishing Report via Yellow Dog Fly Fishing (March 27, 2024)

Flow Data: Bighorn River near St. Xaiver, MT

The Bighorn is fishing well with great flows, water temps, and clarity. Good weather on the Bighorn with cooler temperature this weekend but still very manageable air temperatures. There have been a few BWO’s and midges hatching and the occasional fish slurping them down on the surface. Flies to use to trick these risers include but are not limited to the Quill Gordon BWO and BWO CDC Biot Comparadun. In the event that you find fish rising to midges a Peacock Cluster or Griffith’s Gnat will fool a consistently rising fish with a good cast and presentation. Nymphing has been the best strategy to catch fish so far this winter. Scuds, sowbugs, worms, and midges are Bighorn winter fare to imitate. Ray Charles, Pill Poppers, Tailwater sowbugs are great choices followed by a Manhattan midge or Zebra Midge. When none of these smaller flies seem to be working a Wire Worm or a Squirmy Worm will trick a few trout. Small streamers swung or fished deep and slow can pick up fish as well.

Cooney Ice Report (March 22, 2024)

B.B.: Cooney was completely frozen on Saturday. Edges were super soft, it was a bit of a challenge to get on the ice. Ice was about 12″ in the middle…

Upper Madison River Fishing Report by River’s Edge (March 25, 2024)

853 CFS @ Kirby – The Upper Madison has been a decent option recently, but should be great later in the week with warmer, overcast weather forecasted. A few fish have been rising, but we would suggest keeping bobbers in mind until it warms up. Stoneflies, worms, $3 dips and midges have been our favorites for nymphing, or try stripping a sculpin!


-TJ Hooker Black/Brown #8
– Jim Dandy Worm Wine #12
– Hi-Viz Griffith’s #18
– Radiation Baetis Pink #16
– Mini Boogieman Olive #6

Headhunters Fly Shop Missouri River Fishing Forecast (March 21, 2024)

Izaak’s Opening Today, Weekend in the Rockies

Local News: Izaaks Opening today March 21st! So very hungry and damn excited we are this time of year when Izaak’s opens its doors today! Welcome back Chef John and the well known front and back of the house favorites with Scotty and Zuzanna again manning the helm out front. We look forward to the great tastes and smells happening soon in Craig.

Winter weather coming again this weekend as we move through the spring  here in Craig. Great fishing out there. Slutty Swingers and Dry Fly Flats Walkers balance out the Dirty Nymphers. Sultry Strippers finish out the line with decent success recently.

Midges are out there. Stale, non-windy pockets can hold a few jewels. The fish are certainly spread out in most of the water column. Starting to look around and roam. Pretty fun out there. Wandered around a few days this week guiding and having a ball. One great day, one not as bitey of a day. Both highly entertaining. Fun to jump in the water again continuing to make the spring and summer fishing attack plan for myself. It’s really gone be fun.

Out later today swinging/hand twisting a soft hackle. I’ll report back of course. The Trout Spey game has been quite strong this winter-early-spring.

Guide Trips out everyday now. Call for the last of the winter guide rates before April 1st. Love to help you get your toes wet for the ’24 Fly Fishing Season. We have lodging too at Craig Trout Camp in downtown Craig.

Water temps in the 37F range. Increasing a bit daily with the air temps roaming the 50’s.  Water Flows at Holter currently tiptoeing around 3840cfs.

Montana Snotel Snow Water Equivalent Map here. Low YTD averages across the state including our  drainage. Barely able to stay over 70%. Of course that is Year to Date. Got the 3 wettest moths ahead of us. But starting with a better foundation would have been good in light of our current Drought Conditions.

Let us know how to help when you are stumbling around Craig Montana. Open daily 9am. Shuttles, lodging, guides, rental boats, the Best Flies Under the Big Sky, friendly HH faces…

See you at the bar Izaak’s!

Bass Fishing Report (March 23, 2024)

J.B.: Bitterroot has them, as does Little Loon. I’ve done well from the bank on Little Loon with. Crawfish jig at the outflow of the lake

Cat Fish Report (March 22, 2024)

A.C.: Hysham area last Saturday….caught about 6

Boulder River Fishing Report by Montana Angler (March 26, 2024)

Current Conditions:

The Boulder River is running slightly above average for this time of year, but still cold. With the Boulder’s crystal clear water in the spring, it means the trout are spooky so making longer casts and a stealthy approach helps to reduce spooking trout. But because fish are in deeper water right now they aren’t as nervous. Water temps in the Boulder River typically remain cold so the best fishing has been in the afternoons. Hatches of Blue Winged Olives can occur any day but will increase in frequency as water temps consistently run in it the 40s.

The Month Ahead:

The Boulder River has snowmelt runoff a bit later than the Yellowstone because of the high elevation snowpack and the fishing should be good until then. Both nymphing and dries over the baetis hatch will be productive.

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